Scientists discovered that in the past, Venus might have had an Earth-like atmosphere which protected the surface of the planet enough to make it suitable to foster life.
The astronomers already knew that the distant globe had a formation, an internal structure and a chemical composure similar to our planet. However, at one moment in time, the similarities started to fade as Venus had a different evolutionary path.
The new report shows that there are even more points of reference in favor of Venus being habitable. By using climate models, the space scientists discovered that in the past, the planet had conditions very different from what we can see now.
Our modern day Venus has a surface temperature of 864 degrees Fahrenheit. The atmosphere is very thick; it’s mostly made of carbon dioxide and contains no water.
The Pioneer mission suggested in the 80s that the planet might have fostered an ocean. This was the point from where different theories of habitability started to emerge.
However, the researchers think that the fact that the planet is very close to the sun might have caused all the water in its oceans to evaporate. The H2O molecules might have been then broken down by sun radiation, and the hydrogen was released into space. The accumulation of carbon dioxide transformed the planet’s atmosphere into what we can observe in the present.
Another theory is that the rotation speed around the axis influences the climate. When it comes to Venus, a thick atmosphere is related to a slow rotation rate. However, new findings suggest that a thin atmosphere would be created under the same conditions.
The Goddard Institute for Space Studies released a new study that simulates the existing conditions on Venus in the past. The model assumes that the planet could have had an atmosphere similar to that on Earth, with the difference that one day on Venus took as much time as 117 days on our planet.
Another element added to the model was the hypothetical ocean that might have existed according to the data collected during the Pioneer mission three decades ago.
The astronomers concluded that the way Venus spins around its axis exposes its dayside to the sun for two months each time.
Moreover, the slow rotation can make the surface of the planet warm and it permits to produce rain, a phenomenon emerging from the thick clouds suspended over the surface of the world.
The layer of clouds protects the planet from solar radiation and prevents the surface from reaching extreme temperatures, just like it now happens on Earth.
Another finding of this climate simulation on Venus showed that the average temperature in the ancient times was just a few degrees lower than what we now have on Earth.
If proven to be scientifically accurate, the results of the study may lead to an archaeological mission to Venus, one that would be intended to discover if the life as we now have on our planet emerged in the past on a celestial body such as Venus.
Image Source: Wikipedia